- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2001

Local weddings this weekend embodied not only faith in the institution of marriage and hope for the future, but also defiance toward terrorist schemes.
"We didn't want to let them win," Paul Weidow said after his wedding on Saturday in Baltimore. "You're not messing up our lives."
Mr. Weidow, 32, exchanged vows with Janine Dyrwal, 29, in a simple, traditional ceremony at Haebler Memorial Chapel at Baltimore's Goucher College campus.
"I could see no reason that we'd cancel," said Paul Dyrwal, the bride's father. "I think it's the thing that makes our country the special place it is, the sense of family."
The ceremony's message — that Tuesday's terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would not disrupt the American way of life — echoed throughout the region in other weddings.
"We've had some hurdles, but our motto in going through the whole thing is that terrorism only works when you allow it to disrupt your life," said Steven Bower, 31.
Mr. Bower and Clare James, 23, were married Saturday at the Hay-Adams Hotel in a ceremony officiated by a leader of the Washington Ethical Society.
Planning a wedding is complicated in the best of times, what with the small army of caterers, musicians, florists, cake makers, photographers, relatives and attendants who must be choreographed in a gracefully executed production. Canceling a wedding, even in the midst of a national tragedy, is nearly impossible.
The newlywed Bowers had planned their event for a year and a half. That both of them had lost their jobs at different times in the high-tech economy downturn could not deter them.
Only four of their 80 invited guests bowed out at the last minute because of disruption in air travel.
The one big question facing them on Friday, said Mr. Bowers, was whether the Secret Service would allow the party to drink champagne and watch the sunset from the Hay-Adams' roof overlooking Lafayette Square and the White House below.
"It sounds like a game-time decision," he said.
Another couple who sallied forth with a Baltimore wedding Saturday evening did so as a symbol of commitment to the future even though they were shaken by events . The bride, an employee of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in New York, was injured slightly in the attack on the World Trade Center, where the investment firm has headquarters.
"Everybody is sad and miserable. It doesn't hurt to celebrate something happy," said wedding planner Bonnie Schwartz of Bethesda, who declined to divulge the names of the bride and groom whose Saturday evening celebration she was handling at the Four Seasons Hotel.
"The guest list went from 220 down to 180," she said, adding that one no-show was a bridesmaid. "Luckily the majority are in driving range. The flip side of the story is that some guests who previously had said they couldn't make it because of previous engagements are now coming."
"This particular bride and groom decided to continue. Their hearts are broken, but they wanted to make a statement," said Tricia Messerschmitt, director of public relations for the Four Seasons.
The just-married Mrs. Weidow, talking before the reception hit full swing, recalled the horror she felt Tuesday upon hearing of the terrorist suicide attacks. Her groom works at Fort Meade, Md., as an associate with the McLean-based consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton.
"I called, sobbing, begging him not to go to work," said Mrs. Weidow, a marketing manager with American University's school of public affairs.
"It was Wednesday when it really hit us," said Mr. Weidow, adding that was when they realized about 12 loved ones would not be able to attend the wedding because of the grounding of commercial planes. "You feel kind of selfish, these people can't come in."
Some of the Mr. Bowers' relatives were coming in from Kansas City, Kan., for the occasion. "They made the tough choice to try to fly out or make the 20-hour drive."
He said they landed at Washington Dulles International Airport on one of the earliest flights to land there on Friday.
Mr. Dyrwal said his daughter's wedding ceremony reflects upon America in a way few other rituals can.
"Even though jobs and situations have spread us out all over, we're still together in our hearts and our minds," he said. "They can't take that away from us."

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